Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is turning his “I know Florida” message into a bit of a stick, suggesting Thursday that his opponent for the Republican gubernatorial primary. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, knows Florida not-so-much.

“Floridians want a Governor who knows Florida best, who’s always going to put Florida first and is running a grassroots campaign,” Putnam told reporters Thursday, responding to a question about what he thinks of DeSantis getting President Donald Trump‘s endorsement.

“I do see a lot of MAGA hats at my rallies,” Putnam added, referencing Trump’s themed hats, “Make America Great Again.”

Putnam’s “I know Florida” comments essentially echoed one of the themes of the stump speech he gave earlier at the Lay of the Land Conference in ChampionsGate, and which he has used throughout the first 11 months of his campaign.

Now Putnam, of Bartow, is putting a bit of emphasis on it, facing DeSantis, the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach who thus far has spent much of his three-month campaign for the Governor’s job talking about his support for Trump’s positions on federal issues.

“I think people can draw their own conclusions, but there’s no question that I’m the candidate who knows Florida best, knows the nuance of different regions of our state, what the problems are and how to solve those problems,” Putnam said.

“It’s too late after you’re elected to have to have a get-up-to-speed lesson on the diversity of our state,” he added. “And I don’t need a GPS to get around Florida.”

Putnam contends he has visited all 67 counties and “nearly every community” as Agriculture Commissioner.

“It’s important, if you want to be the CEO of Florida, that you know the organization that you need to run,” he added.

On Thursday both Putnam and DeSantis originally were scheduled as speakers at the Lay of the Land conference, but DeSantis, whose wife just gave birth to their second child two weeks ago, pulled out.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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